The Obama administration is filing its plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions with the United Nations Tuesday ahead of a major global warming summit in Paris set for later this year.
President Obama promised last November to cut U.S. carbon dioxide emissions 26 to 28 percent by 2025 in order to get the Chinese government to pledge to peak their carbon emissions by 2030.
The Obama-China deal was heavily criticized by Republican lawmakers who said they would block any such agreement. Indeed, Republicans have again vowed to challenge any international global warming agreement coming out of the UN.
“The Obama administration’s pledge to the United Nations today will not see the light of day with the 114th Congress,” Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an emailed statement.
“This pledge is reflective of the promise President Obama made with China in December, which allows China to continue to expand its energy infrastructure and increase emissions through 2030 while American taxpayers and businesses foot the bill of his extremist global warming agenda,” Inhofe said.
The White House, however, argues that its plan to cut emissions is non-binding and based on Obama’s executive powers. The administration contends it has strong international backing for an international deal on global warming.
“Following that historic announcement, the European Union put forward an ambitious and achievable [plan] to cut their emissions 40% by 2030,” says a White House fact sheet. “And just last week, Mexico announced that it would peak its overall net greenhouse gases by 2026, backed by strong unconditional policies and a new bilateral task force to drive climate policy harmonization with the United States.”
Besides the U.S., only the European Union and three other countries have submitted their climate plans. China has yet to show the world how it will live up to its promise to Obama to cut emissions.
An international climate deal largely hinges on promises from China, the world’s largest CO2 emitter, to cut emissions. Yet, the communist government was light on details when it promised to peak emissions by 2030 and boost green energy use.
Simply peaking emissions means the country will still use more coal, oil and gas to power its economy — effectively wiping out cuts from other countries. Taken in conjunction with the Obama administration’s failure to get any carbon dioxide reduction commitments from India, the world’s third-largest emitter, the prospects for a world climate treaty are dim. This doesn’t even take into account Senate opposition.
“When a treaty comes before the Senate, I fully expect for a majority of my colleagues to stand with the rest of Americans who want affordable energy and more economic opportunity, neither of which will be obtainable with the president’s current climate deal,” Inhofe said.
Democratic lawmakers have backed Obama’s plan to cut emissions, but it’s unlikely they can muster enough votes to prevent Republicans from blocking the treaty if it did come before the Senate.
Obama has made building support for an international climate deal this year a top priority. The administration has been quietly working behind the scenes to build support in the global community for an agreement, according to news reports.
“If I can encourage and gain commitments from the Chinese to put forward a serious plan to start curbing their greenhouse gases, and that then allows us to leverage the entire world for the conference that will be taking place later this year in Paris,” Obama told VICE News in an interview.
“When I’m done, we’re still going to have a heck of a problem, but we will have made enough progress that the next president and the next generation can start building on it,” Obama said.
A wide-eyed Politico reporter even said that if Obama does get a UN climate deal “he can leave office claiming to have helped save the world.”
There’s only one problem with that assertion: it’s not even clear if a global climate deal will have a measurable impact on warming.
Even if every industrialized country were to cut emissions by 40 percent, only 0.113 degrees Celsius of warming would be averted by 2100. This doesn’t even include up and coming economies that could eviscerate emissions reductions from rich countries.
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